Why aren’t you breathing fully?
The corporeal causes for shallowing of the breath are many. Asthmatic issues, allergies, infections, or other lung/nose/throat disturbances, and maybe even attempting to avoid bad smells or inhalants or infectious agents could be behind bad breathing. The origins of shallowing breath via psychological connections are also significant, and can also be the deeper root behind the more obvious physical causes. Stress and anxiety, panic, hopelessness and depression, and emotional distresses of all kinds can contribute to poor breathing function.
In her book, Your Body Speaks Your Mind, Deb Shapiro outlines several body-mind connections that can affect depth and quality of breath. For instance, a stiff diaphragm that can impede deeper breath might indicate “a resistance or fear of sharing one’s deepest feelings.” (p 126)
Shapiro says of breathing, “To breathe is to take in and give out. You breathe in, knowing you can breathe out, and in breathing out you unconsciously know there will be another breath for you to take in. However, if there is any fear or lack of trust in this automatic process, then breathing difficulties may develop.” (p. 213)
As I practiced sitting quietly in meditation the other morning, I used the tool of the mantra with my breath to aid my focus, and it occurred to me that I, and maybe others do as well, have had a tendency to hold onto breath like I hold onto possessions or experiences or feelings or comforts…I hold breath because I am afraid to lose it. I lose my trust. But trust in what?
My mantra that morning was the simple word, “love.” I inhaled love and…wait…I don’t want to let it go! If I exhale, will the love disappear? Where will it go? If I send it to someone else, will there be enough love left for me to inhale?
In the matter of a few shallowing breath cycles, God worked through my mantra and into the anxiety I was activating. I focused and found myself available to His grace.
I am love and I am endless. I am within you and you within me. My capacity to love you is beyond fathom and your capacity to be loved is as big as your trust in that. Exhaling love will make room for more and more and more. My grace, my love, my breath, is sufficient for you.
This simple revelation was a gift of awareness. Could this love-breath-trust insight be a root in a garden of mistrust weeds or an umbrella of trust opening over my patch of posies? I’m not sure yet, but I trust that with the tools of Yoga and meditative practices God will provide what I need to know according to His purpose. And with that, I’ll breath easy.
After said meditation practice, I mused on some breathing visualizations that cultivate love and trust for me.
Inhale love, exhale be grounded in love. (Visualize exhaling through the sit bones, growing trust “roots.”)
Inhale love, exhale a loving dedication. (Metta maybe?)
Inhale love, exhale trust. (Trust that you will inhale love again!)
How’s your breath been lately? Does it need a boost? Share your breath beliefs below!